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United States 20, Vermont 15, Obama 14, Washington 13, America 10, New York 9, Newtown 8, Joe Biden 7, Patrick Leahy 6, Carmen 5, U.s. 5, On C-span 4, Vawa 4, Bob Goodlatte 4, Philadelphia 4, Georgetown 4, Steven 4, Leahy 4, Durbin 3, Ronald Reagan 3,
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  CSPAN    Public Affairs    News  News/Business.  

    January 16, 2013
    10:00 - 1:00pm EST  

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groups? guest: the filibuster reform fight is front and center of their agenda, because the way the senate rules work, the best way to change how filibuster rules work is at the beginning of a new congress. as congress waits to come back, coming back on the 22nd of the 23rd -- the senate, i should say -- they have until then to convince harry reid and mcconnell to agree to some kind of filibuster reform changes. more broadly speaking, they will continue to meet and plan their strategy for 2013 and 2014 and find the best states where they can have the victories. new york state is a good example. andrew cuomo has indicated willingness for bic reform of money in politics in the state
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. host: andy host: live coverage of senator patrick leahy, he'll talk about his agenda, the committee's agenda for the 113th congress. introducing him is georgetown university law center professor -- excuse me, law center dean, william trainor. thanks for watching. >> issues like immigration and gun control and what's done with it particularly now in the wake of the terrible murders of children in newtown, connecticut, and privacy and civil liberties and judicial nominations. a couple years ago i had the privilege to introduce senator leahy as he spoke at the new see yum -- newseum, that was a fascinating speech and i know
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today will be a very important speech on a very important series of topics. after the senator speaks we'll then have question and answer period. let me present to you senator leahy. [applause] >> thank you very, very much. they were fortunate when they had you down there, but my alma mater is fortunate to have you here now. you said about making the choice of georgetown. i was saying to my wife and others, that as i was preparing for this speech i thought, again, just how pleased i made the choice i did on committee assignments. i actually look forward to being back here at georgetown to talk about my agenda.
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i have done this before. also in the senate judiciary committee when we come into session, the first meeting in the new congress there will be three georgetown law center graduates on the senate judiciary committee. myself, of course senator durbin who is the majority, deputy majority leader in the senate, and senator hirono from hawaii. it's going to be -- i enjoy that committee the most of any committee i have served on because every day it's like going back to school. something i enjoyed immensely. this here at georgetown, i brag about you, where i was taught in
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great elaborate detail i might add, about the values embodying the constitution, rule of law, but also about the majesty of our legal traditions. and i say to the students, there is majesty in america's legal traditions. this is where i learned to argue. but i also learned to appreciate different sides of complicated issues, and then to search for solutions. i never imagined then i was going to be able to work on the area of broad legal constitutional issues that come before the senate judiciary committee. in my years there i think i have seen just about every kind of legal or constitutional issue there is. so i look forward to chairing it again. we touch the lives in that committee, we touch the lives of 300 million americans, we are going to talk about issues ranging from the freedom of the
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press to the right to bear arms. we consider legislation and nominations affecting many of our pressing challenges, as well as our fundamental rights and our most basic freedoms. every single lifetime judge, federal judge goes through that committee. i expect the judiciary committee's going to devote most of our time this spring working on comprehensive immigration reform. two topics are more fundamental to who we are as a nation than immigration. immigration throughout our o history has been an ongoing source of the renewal of our spirit and our creativity, our vitality from the young students who were brought to this country by their parents seeking a better life for themselves, the hardworking men and women who play vital roles supporting our
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farmers, innovating for our technology companies, creating businesses on their own all of them, our nation relies on immigrants. we have to find a way through the partisan gridlock to enact meaningful change to immigration laws, and that should include a path to citizenship. tackling this complex issue let's get away from partisan symbolism. let's uphold the fundamental values of family, hard work, and fairness. so next month we are going to begin this national discussion, the full judiciary committee, with public hearings. i know i'm going to hear a lot of different views on this, but i hope in the end we can honor those who came before us from distant lands in search of freedom and opportunity. i wonder with the attitude of some today if when my grandparents came to vermont
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from italy, whether they would have been allowed to become citizens, or my great grandparents when they came from ireland to vermont, whether they would have been allowed to become citizens. or my wife's parents when he they came to vermont from canada whether they could become citizens. we have to remember, we all came in our ancestors for ourselves from somewhere else. and then on an issue that is before the nation, improperly so, and i applaud the president for doing this, is the issue of gun violence. two weeks from today the senate judiciary committee will begin examining possible remedies for tragedies like last month's shootings in newtown. i believe these will be the first congressional hearings since that happened. the questions we face about our
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national gun policy extend beyond the tragic issues of mass murder. they extend to how we care for those with mental illness. how we manage the exposure of children to violence in proper media, and simple matters of gun safety. i hope it's going to be an open forum for constructive discussion. again, spare me symbolic arguments. let's have a constructive discussion about how better to protect our communities from mass shootings, or respecting fundamental rights guaranteed by our supreme court. now, like many other gun owners i believe that we should strengthen our federal laws to combat gun trafficking. we should ensure that those seeking to purchase guns do so with real background checks. but that's only a part of what's needed. as president obama's made clear,
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no single step can end this kind of violence. but the fact that we cannot do everything that could help should not paralyze us from doing anything that can help. i'll go to the white house when i leave here. i'm looking forward to reviewing the proposals the president is announcing today. of course the judiciary committee will consider those proposals as we begin will be the first of several hearings on this topic. then we have the question of first responders. i'm going to keep the committee's focus and partnerships to protect our first responders like the public safety officers benefits act. i'm going to re-authorize the lifesaving bulletproof vest partnership grant program. was proud to author that bipartisan in 1998 with senator ben "nighthorse" campbell.
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we recently provided the one millionth bulletproof vest to a state law enforcement agency. these are not abstract things. first responders are flesh and blood lifelines to each and every one of us. they ran to buildings like sandy hook out of a sense of duty even though they knew they were going to put their lives on the line. had they not responded as quickly as they d. that tragedy would have been even worse. had they not been there immediately, more children would have died. we count on them. we ought to let them count on us. we have some who argue that federal assistance to first responders is somewhat unconstitutional. balleder dash. they are wrong. they should stop stalling these important initiatives. in the coming months we are going to continue to examine our criminal justice system, promote national standards and oversight for forensic labs and
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practitioners. we are going to have improvements far more effectively identify and convict people guilty of crimes, but avoiding the all too common tragedy of convicting the inknow isn't. if you have -- innocent. if you have labs that do not give you right results, and you think you can close a case by sending the wrong person to prison, you have done nothing for the safety of people. you have won the tragedy of having an innocent person in prison, but at the same time you have loose on the streets the person who committed the crime. we all suffer from that. i think we have to also examine the issues related to our high rate of imprisonment, including the fiscal issues. and mandatory minimum sentences. to make sure we have approaches that effectively reduce crime and target haven't offend --
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violent offenders. i say this as a former prosecutor and i say this as a chairman of the senate judiciary committee. i think our reliance at the state and federal level on mandatory minimums has been a great mistake. i'm not convinced it has lowered crime. we have imprisoned people who should not be there, and we have wasted money better spent on other things. i think at the federal level and at the state level get rid of these mandatory minimum sentences. let judges, let judges act as judges and make up their own mind what should be done. the idea that we protect society by one-size-fits all or the idea that we can do this kind of symbolism to make us safer, it just does not work in the real
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world. there are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but had the money to stay out, are not there. what i say is if you have, the inner city buying $100 worth of cocaine, for example, could end up going to prison for years. if you have somebody on wall street buying the same $100 from their local dealer, if they are caught, they'll be reprimanded and may even have to do on park avenue a week of public service. that's not right. that's not ry. -- right. and the first legislation i plan to move in the new congress is the violence against women act. last year the senate passed my
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bipartisan bill, but house leaders refused to agree to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence and rape. like so many of the worthy efforts, renewing vawa has suffered from obstructionism. it has seeped too much into our legislative process. each of us probably know victims of domestic or sexual violence. i still have nightmares from some of the domestic violence crime scenes i saw when i was a prosecutor in vermont. and today as we struggle to overcome these unprecedented obstacles to renewing and improvement vawa, i think of victims like carmen from vermont. let me tell you this story. it's a very small town, as two vermonters here in the front row know. it's a very safe town. very quiet town. but five years ago, carmen's
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estranged husband broke into her home, beat her with a baseball bat, threw industrial strength lye into her face and across her body. her doctors said that she had suffered the most horrific injury a human being could suffer. it nearly blinded her. today she's disfigured and still in pain. yet she's courageously sharing her experience to help others. stories like hers remind me every day we do not pass the vawa, violence against women act, bill comes at a human cost. i have one message. for those who say we should not pass it because we included others, we included members of the lgbt community, we included native americans, we included immigrants so thus we should not pass it, i have never seen a police officer at a crime scene say, well, before we can do anything about this person who has been beaten, perhaps to
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death, we must make sure the person is straight or the person is american or not native american. no, a victim is a victim is a victim. and we should stop setting up standards that say we'll have one standard of law enforcement for one group of victims but not for another. i thank you. [applause] so this is going to be a first priority this year. we'll again try to re-authorize our trafficking victims protect act to counter moudern day slavery, which is shockingly common around the world and even here in the united states. we could have passed it last year. he we had republicans and democrats -- we had republicans and democrats, not a single
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senator blocked that passage. i hope we canover come the obstruction. this is a blight on the world community. it's a blight on the united states. we should be taking steps to stop it. we also have to in the judiciary committee continue to exercise oversight when it comes to our nation's counterterrorism efforts to protect the civil liberties of all americans. we'll examine the constitutional and legal issues implicated by the administration's use of droughns abroad. my concern goes beyond the legal force used against suspected terrorists. i am concerned about the growing use of drones by federal and local authorities to spy on americans here at home. this vast emerging technology is cheap, but i think just because it's available doesn't even it helps us. i think there could be a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of americans.
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so just because we have the technology that allows us to spy on each other, let's not forget we have certain basic constitutional rights as americans. and in a fast changing, technologyly changing world, let's not lose -- technologically changing world, let's not lose sight of the plan we should follow. it's not a plan of cold or written into a computer program. it's a plan that is written in our constitution. and that should be the one thing we follow. we make a tragic mistake we think that merely giving up more and more of our privacy is going to make us safer. it will not. security and liberty are both essential in a free society. you can't foresake one for the other. and then lastly, i'll continue to fight for transparency that keeps the government accountable to the people. few of us agree with everything
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that is done or spoken under protection of our first amendment rights, our freedom of the press. but as a son of vermont printers and publishers, you can bet that i have very serious concerns about the press being shut out. of course i oppose the disclosure of properly classified government information, but i think we have to make sure that legislative efforts to protect or prevent classified leaks don't ink fringe upon our fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of the press. and there i might say to the administration as i have said to past administrations, don't overclassify things. don't put a classification on everything that you do, including those things where you want to cover your mistakes. this is an open and free country. let's keep it that way. so i'll keep pushing to update our privacy laws, to address
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emerging technology and the internet, including the electronic communications privacy act. we have to re-authorize satellite, tv licenses. we have to make most accessible for those with visual disabilities. we have to create incentives for innovation. and like chief justice roberts, i believe the extraordinary high number of extended judicial vacancies has to end. we'll continue to work to do that, but those who would block judges from coming up for even a vote, i'll say this, vote yes or vote no. but when you block them you are voting maybe. what an irresponsible, lazy thing to do. vote yes. vote no. don't vote maybe. so anyway, i tell you some of these things, i tell you why i enjoy being a lawyer, why i enjoy being a graduate of your school, dean.
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i also tell you i enjoy being chairman of the senate judiciary committee. so my friends i see here in the audience remember me telling the story that when i first came to the senate i was told, i believe then chairman of the judiciary committee, because i was a junior most member, he said, boy, around here it's based on seniority. boy, you don't have any, you hear me? yes, sir. i went home and said to my wife, terrible, terrible program they have in the u.s. senate basing things on seniority. we should change that. having studied it for 38 years i now fully understand it. dean, i thank you very, very much. [applause]
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>> thank you very much, senator. that was an extraordinary talk. now we have some time for questions. i'd like to start first with students. if there are any students who have questions, please come forward. we have two microphones on either side. >> not going to be shy, are they? >> good morning, senator. thank you for coming to give this talk. my question centers around supreme court justices. justice kagen has broken the recent and long-standing trend of supreme court justices who have first served as federal judges on the court of appeals. my question is, what do you believe to be the ideal qualifications of a supreme court justice? and will we return to a time when the average congressman or governor has a chance to serve on the supreme court? >> i love that question. thank you very much.
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i have thought about this and i have spoken about this. i believe we've got to get out of the judicial monastery to pick our supreme court justices. obviously we have had some wonderful supreme court justices who have served first in circuit judges or elsewhere, but i'd like to see them from a broader way. somebody with more -- those who haven't just been a judicial monastery, people who have been out and have had all kinds of other experiences. one example, the man when i was a law student here, i was privileged to sit with him one time when our honor society was inviting all the supreme court justices for launch. we ended up sitting with hugo black. justice black, something you could agree or disagree with
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him, but he had been a ku klux klan member. he was one of the ones who worked with the chief justice to help draft the board of education. and ending segregation. he also was a strong, strong defender of the first amendment. but he could speak of his own personal experience and actually evolution. we have had many others, many others like that. i think we should look -- i have urged president obama on this, i have urged other presidents to see how much they paid attention to me, start going outside the judicial monastery. i want somebody with integrity, legal ability, somebody who is bright and understands the law but has had a wider variety of experience. you mentioned governors or
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members of congress, yes. but i want as broad experience as possible. thank you. >> next question. >> incidentally, i have enjoyed some of the interviews with justice sotomayor, and she's talked about her own experience. there's somebody with a really remarkable experience. if you get a chance to read her book, i'm getting it, i intend to read it. i know her well and i listen to her stories. give you an example of what can be done in america. >> thanks so much for being here. i know that your amendment to the electronic communications privacy act was tossed back in november in your committee and i was wondering if you could talk about what you think will happen next and how it will be received ? any roadblocks it might run into? and else what else -- also what
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else you think needs to be done to protect our privacy? >> thank you very much. it got through the committee in december, but it was towards the end of the session. we knew it would not go on the floor, but i did want to lay down the marker. it's coming back up again. we have so much ability to go on line. we have just seen the newest thing that facebook came out with yesterday, and check back and find things about everybody. i'm also struck with somebody will tell me, come up with some outlandish thing. i know it's true, i read it on the internet. it's an advantage to be able to have yourself, one of the advantages of being able to pick
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it up and call up any information you want, but not to the extent you give up your own privacy. i worry that people can track who you called and how. that -- what you are reading or why. these are -- i'll give you an example. nobody questions the fact that if a police agency wants to go into your home, open your files, papers, read through them, they are going to have to have a search warrant. i question the willingness to have a different view when they can do it from 100 miles away with a key stroke. it is going to be a fight, but i think people are realizing they don't have to give up their ability to use the internet and everything else, while at the same time guarding their
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freedom. those are broad brush answers, i realize, but we are going to bring it back this year. it's also one of the things that helped in my decision to stay as chair of the judiciary committee. thank you. >> next question on the left. i'm sorry. my left. >> senator, thank you so much. >> i automatically look to the left. i once was at the smithsonian, i'm one of the regents, and clint eastwood was doing something, i was standing next to him for the photograph. and photographer said everyone move a little to the right. eastwood said, patrick, easy for me, not so easy for you. >> late last year you sent a letter to the justice department asking for clarification on
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their position regarding the recent ballot initiatives in colorado and washington, which legalized marijuana, and the resulting discrepancy with federal law. i was wondering if you could please talk about what motivated you to write the letter and what you believe the correct approach might be. >> i have a real concern for states' rights. we vermonters like to the extent we possibly can to determine our own laws. i assume most other states do. i want -- i'm raising the question with the federal authorities. i don't want to prejudge what might be said in a hearing, but i am concerned that just because marijuana is illegal, possession of it, under federal law, that we are just going to ignore what
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states do and send law enforcement in there to enforce the federal law even though the states have a different view on it. we don't do it in most other areas, and so i'd like to have some clarification of that. i also must say, my own predilection is that i hate to see a great deal of law enforcement resources spent on things like the possession use of marijuana when we have a -- murder case, armed robbery case, things like that that go unsolved. let's see what he they come up with. that's my feeling. it was also my feeling as a
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prosecutor. i found more important things to do. >> on comprehensive immigration reform most of the discussion has centered around a gang of six or senator rubio's recent proposal. i was wondering what role you foresaw the judiciary committee playing in the discussions and proposals? >> it comes up in the judiciary committee, there will be some aspects. but the primary immigration will come before us. that's why i'm having this major hearing. everybody who's got views, i am a he going to make sure they are heard. i have a lot of respect for marco rubio. we disagree on some things, agree on others. i found him to be very open in his views. i'll seek that. i'll talk to those who are onboarder states, southern border states. i want to hear what they have to say. i actually joined with president
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george w. bush, he wanted a comprehensive immigration reform, i told him i strongly support him on that. we don't face this issue in vermont. we don't have canadians wanting to come across the border for a better life or better health care system or whatever in the united states. they are pretty comfortable where they are. but that's not the case everywhere. i'm also very worried -- some of the things i hear and some of the blogs xenophobic attitude, kick those foreigners out, probably by somebody who is one or two generations away from being immigrants themselves. that's not what america is about. that's not what attracted my grandparents and great grandparents to this country. so i am perfectly willing
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whether it's the gang of six, 12, or something, but in the united states senate we need a gang of 51 to get it through and you need majority in the house. i have talked with president obama about this. i know he's strongly committed to real immigration reform. would like to see the dream act passed. i'd like to see a number of other things and we'll work on it. one of your fellow graduates of georgetown, senator durbin, deserves every kind of honor and praise for what he's done in the dream act. he'll be very important in this. >> good morning, senator. "the washington post" had a piece yesterday suggesting that you represented perhaps an obstacle to the passage of gun control legislation. i'm wondering -- obviously you do in a sense.
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but i'm wondering if sort of standard practice in congress should yield to what many perceive to be an extremely urgent situation. >> i think it is an urgent situation and that's why the first hearings held by anybody, house or senate, is going to be by me and my committee in that. i wasn't quite sure who they were writing about when i read the article, but i will strongly defend the press right to print anything they want, accurate or otherwise, but the fact is -- i'm not suggesting whether this was accurate or not, but i would point out that i have a track record of getting legislation passed. there are some who say nothing will pass.
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i disagree with that. what i'm interested in is what we can get. i'm interested in -- i'm not interested in those who say nothing can pass. for example we can close the loopholes, people have these open gun sales, traveling gun sales, what not, that's a huge loophole. i think we could tighten up our background checks. there are a number of things we can do. is there any one solution that would stop it after newtown? no. different parts of the country, different ways. i'll tell you one thing, about the only gun law we have in vermont is during deer season. if you have a semiautomatic you can't have more than six rounds in it.
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are we really as a nation say we are going to be more protective of the deer than we are of our children? i think not. [applause] >> good morning. i was wondering do you plan on introducing the jufe nigh justice and delinquency prevention act -- juvenile justice and delinquency prevent act. do you plan on introducing it again, i know you introduced it previously. >> depending upon the form of it, yes. >> thank you. >> i don't mean to be so brief. i think we felt a lot of our juvenile justices at the state
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level, there are certain things done at the federal level. again it's an area we can provide a lot more assistance, a lot more help than those who say, well, we can't afford to do that. obviously have not spent time in a juvenile court as i have. i hasten to explain, i was there as a prosecutor. i wasn't there as a juvenile because i never got caught. thank you. oh, dear. is this on television? >> good morning, senator. thanks for being here. i apologize for another question about potential gun control legislation, but given that a lot of talk in the media has been around sort of high capacity magazines and these weapons -- military grade weapons that have been used in mass killings, but a large percentage of gun violence in the united states is ordinary weapons that are purchased illegally. i was wondering if you could
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talk more about i guess if there are any policies you foresee coming through about secondhand market illegal gun purchases and things to limit that. >> the gun show loophole is one that has to be closed. contrary to the suggestion, i voted for the 1994 assault weapons ban. and i think it should not have been allowed to expire. it was. i voted to ban cop killer bullets, the so-called high penetration bullets. the gun show loophole, say you have a car and you're going to sell it to me, you have to go through all kinds of registration, pay taxes, do all of other things. we transferred one of our cars to one of our sons here
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recently. we had to go through the motor vehicle department transfer, whatever. why somebody should be able to go into a gun show and buy any kind of a thing, on any kind of the background check you might have otherwise, at least -- i can't understand that. i really can't. i think we should have stricter background checks. i think they should be real ones. if you have the restraining orders on you, other things, we ought to be able to do that. i realize every state's different. vermont has virtually no gun laws. you can carry loaded concealed weapon in vermont this afternoon if you were there with no permit. we also have one of the lowest crime rates in the country but not because of that. we are as a society we are very law-abiding, but would that stop
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somebody who is mentally unhinged from going out and using a gun, knife, or anything else to kill people? no. the president's right when he says there are a whole lot -- i'm anxious to be at this meeting this morning to hear their proposals. and they will be considered in the judiciary committee. but i also, i'm open to anybody else's. can we pass a law that will stop all gun violence? no. we can't pass a law that will stop all drunk driving accidents. we can't pass a law that's going to stop cancer. but the fact that we can't do something with perfection doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything. there are things we should do. these large magazines, assault weapons, gun show loopholes, of course those have to be addressed.
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we again in vermont, we restrict the number of rounds you could have in your semiautomatic for deer hunting. we ought to be as protective of our children as we are deer. >> hi, senator. not strictly a judiciary committee question, but the filibuster has been frequently discussed as a barrier to passing lots of legislation across the board. i was just wondering with your many years in the senate a lot of the recent proposals are also proposed by our newer senators. i was wondering if you have any reservations about any of those proposals and any details about how you feel about -- >> i think -- i agree with many of the senators. there's got to be some significant change. i felt that same way when i
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first came here. one of my very first assign, within here for just a few months, was to work with then senator mon dale of minnesota -- mondale, minnesota, later vice president, to change the filibuster rule we had at that time to move it effectively from 67 to 60. what has happened now, the filibuster's one thing to protect the minority. you got a major issue. i happen to disagree with those who filibuster the civil rights laws, but it was a major enough issue in this country that it required the debate to go forward and finally they were passed. but when you have one person, may even call from the airport, put a hold on this bill, i'm not prepared to vote for it, that's baloney. if you want to actually stand up for something, get on the floor and do it. so many of the holds and the so-called silent filibusters are for some of the most picayune
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nonsensical things. if people had to stand on the floor and talk about it, pretty soon everybody would say, are you out of your mind? i would say my distinguished colleagues because only in a distinguished way are they out of their mind. i want to follow the senate rules here. but this has become ridiculous. best example, dozens and dozens and dozens of judicial nominees get held for month after month after month. they have been nominated. they have gone through the senate judiciary committee unanimously. and then -- basically shut down their law practice because they are going to become federal judge. then for months and months are in this limbo because we can't bring it to a vote. and then when we finally do bring it to a vote, they get 95 votes, 98 votes out of 100. no. this is allowing people to vote
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maybe. not yes or no. if you feel strongly about an issue, come to the floor. our rules allow you to debate. on some of these things, most of these things, i don't find anybody feels that strongly about their willing to stand up and explain to the american public on c-span and on the congressional record here's why i am opposing it because usually their reasons do not stand the light of day. thank you. in case you wonder howe you feel i about it. -- how -- wonder how i feel about it. >> you alluded earlier to your experience as a prosecutor and your opinions been mandatory minimums and states' rights with marijuana legislation. i'm curious a month ago we had a film here, the house i live in, which illuminated a lot of the effects of the war on drugs -- >> eugene's film? >> direct. >> i'm a eugene is something my
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wife and i have known since he was a teenager. my wife another role as a vusstiss of the peace for a year -- justice of the peace for a year officiated his wedding. >> i found it to be a powerful film. do you foresee a day where we are going to step back from that ledge of the war on drugs, and if so what specific legislative measures and how do you foresee that process? >> i don't have to step back. i felt very strongly about this. i have spoken about this a number of times. i think that i -- i think eugene has done a wonderful thing in getting this debate going, "the new yorker," "new york times," and others have articles about eugene and what he's done. i have a showing at the m.p.a. of this movie and had members of the judiciary committee down to see it.
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i think in some ways, i realize somewhat oversimplification, i'm sure people are going to question what i'm saying, but in some way our so-called war on drugs, we made some of the same mistakes we made in our war on terrorism. where you have unnecessary checks everywhere on people for -- 2-year-old child that can't board a plane because they are on a terrorist list. obvious mistake but nobody can do anything about it. the fact that so many people, especially young people, go to prison for a relatively minor thing, but a drug offense, and then you ask why can't they get jobs afterwards? why do they have problems from then on? i think we have spent tens of billions, hundreds of billions
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of dollars on the so-called war on drugs. well, we have lost. [applause] >> thank you all very much. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] fun tune [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> senator leahy this morning making news during his he remarks announcing that he'll begin hearings in two weeks on gun safety proposals. as president obama pushes for fast action. the associated press saying he envisions a series of hearings
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examining violence in popular media and how to keep guns safe among other topics. more live coverage coming up today here on c-span. at 11:55 president obama is expected to officially announce a white house plan for reducing gun violence. spokesman jay carney said yesterday that a plan includes an assault weapons ban, a ban on high capacity magazine, and effort to close loopholes in the background check system. the president also reportedly plans to issue 19 executive orders dealing with stemming gun the announcement comes after the president received recommendation from task force led by vice president joe biden. again you can see the president's remarks here on c-span starting at 11:55 eastern. following that announcement we'll open our phone lines to get rea. gun violence will be the topic of a meeting this afternoon hosted by the staring meet. newtown connecticut school superintendent is among those who will speak along with the philadelphia mayor and natalie
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who is the son of gabe zimmerman who died in the 2011 two don, arizona shooting. house minority leader nancy pelosi is also scheduled to attend. that will be live this afternoon starting at 2:00 eastern here on c-span. on this morning's "washington journal," we were joined by house judiciary committee chair, bob goodlatte, who discussed the debate over guns laws. host: welcome back to the table, bob goodlatte, chairman of the house judiciary committee committee. thank you very much for talking to our viewers this morning. guest: thank you. good to be with you and the viewers. host: the president will speak at 11:45 and put forward what he would like to see happen on gun control. what are your thoughts? guest: first of all we are interested in what the vice president's commission and the president propose and we'll take a serious look at anything that they put on the table. we are also very mindful of the fact that there is a second
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amendment, constitutional right, to keep and bear arms and that that right was only recently found by the united states supreme court to very clearly extend to individual civilians and their right to own firearms. we are going to definitely look at this. this is a terrible tragedy and we have had others, one, the virginia tech shooting was not in my district but very close by my district. when that occurred we took a very serious look at this whole problem of what happens when individuals with serious mental health issues get firearms and cause these kind of catastrophes . at that time we found there was not enough information in the n.i.c. system, national information crime statistics system and therefore we beefed that up. just this year we have more than doubled what the president proposed to do that. we have also found, however, that nearly half the states
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still do not send information regarding people who have been committed for mental health reasons or have been adjudicated to be mentally incapable of taking care of themselves in that system. so that occurs. now in this particular case the big problem is that this individual was known to have problems but never been committed. even if he had, he didn't acquire his guns by purchasing them. he got them from his mother who was someone who collected guns, used guns, and unfortunately did not, apparently, we still need to know more information from what happened in that home and school, but did not keep those guns separated from her son. and paid for it with her life. we want to take a close look a at what happened here and what can be done to educate people and do more to avoid this situation happening again. host: here's a story from "roll call" on december 18 in the headline. in wake of tragedy little appetite for gun control among
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house republicans. and they quote you, saying that, you are not in favor of tightening controls on firearms such as banning assault weapons or high capacity clips. and this is what they write, his comments are the most unequivocal statement yet from a high ranking republican shutting down the idea of gun control after what happened in contract connecticut. do you agree or disagree with how they characterize that? guest: first of all the fact of the matter is when you talk about the subject, if you are talking about reinstating the assault weapons ban or some other effort that's been made in recent years, we don't find that those things would lead to preventing these types of activities from occurring. i would be happy to go into more detail about that, but we certainly in terms of background checks, in terms of keeping weapons out of the hands of criminals and people who have serious mental difficulties, we want to do that and we are going to take a close look at it. and we have also agreed to look
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at any arguments that are made with regard to any of the issues, but i will -- i don't think it's a surprise to my constituents that i have a strong record of having defended the second amendment for a long, long time. and certainly have a strong respect for the right of private citizens, lawfully abiding private citizens to own firearms. there are lots of evidence to show that they are used successfully to help defend the national septre for disease control in 1994 found that about half a million people a year use firearms to frighten off intruders from their homes. that's a lot of instances where firearms are helpful and used to prevent tragedies. another study about six years later by journal of criminal gi found -- criminology found that about a million people a year use firearms to defend themselves from various crimes.
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so the right to own firearms is the well established principle in our constitution and we'll defend it. host: you do have a rating of a from the n.r.a. and here is the sunlight foundation, five house members who got the most n.r.a. money. your picture there. they say in 2012 cycle you received about $56,000 from the n.r.a. guest: certainly gun owners know of my long track record of supporting second amendment rights. they have a tendency to support my efforts to run for office. no question about that. host: so i was wondering about high capacity magazine rounds. folks are saying that for the newtown tragedy, it might not have stopped them but might have slowed him down to the point where he would not have been able to kill as many children. are you open to looking at that? guest: we look at all these things. but past studies have shown that the magazine size does not make a difference. again, we'll be happy to look at
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additional evidence in that regard. in this particular case we are still not provided with all of the information related to how this occurred. there are reports that the so-called assault weapon was not used. that was -- it was handguns used. again we would like to have more information. it's also important to note that there are tens of millions of these high capacity clips and assault weapons themselves. here it's important i think to talk about semiautomatic weapons. a lot of people think that an assault weapon is what they see on the movies or television or in video games, where you pull the trigger and you have a spray of bullets, machine-gun fire if you will. machine guns are heavily regulated. a civilian cannot buy a machine gun made after 1986. they want to own an older model they have to go through a severe licensing requirement to do that. semiautomatic, where you pull the trigger each time and the
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bullet is automatically chameberd, those have been around for more than 100 years. most modern hunting rifles and handguns of all kinds are semiautomatic and therefore to attempt to say you are going to ban them based upon how they look, which is how the assault weapons ban looks, it says if you have a folding stock or a bacon net mount or a flash -- bacon net -- bayonette mount or flash effect, the lethality of the weapon, define what an assault weapon is, that doesn't draw any distinction between that and any other semiautomatic type weapons. i don't think that's a meaningful way to address the problem. host: executive action, the president says he'll take some moves on gun control measures via the executive order. is that appropriate? do you agree? one of your colleagues said we are going to try to stop him. we might try to impeach him over that. guest: it will depend what the executive action is.
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if the federal government, which has already many laws on the books that deal with the background checks and prohibiting access to machine guns and other weapons like that, we have already talked about, is used within the scope of that law to change how the federal government addresses the problem, that's one thing. if on the other hand the president attempts to expand the authority of federal government agencies to act without congressional approval, that exceeds his authority under the constitution, under the second amendment, and we certainly would be very mindful of that and would be taking action. i'm sure there would be lots of other things including lawsuits. host: you can stop funding. would that be something you would consider? guest: he we certainly would. but obviously we don't want to be put in a situation where the portions of what the government is doing that are legal and are
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appropriate are halted because the president exceeds his authority. obviously we have to see what he proposes. if he exceeds his authority, i think the congress will respond and we'll respond strongly. host: we have talked about gun control. we have to talk about immigration reform as well. jan in california, republican, hi. caller: hi. i agree with the gentleman that it's mentally ill because in norway they had an autistic-as perfectinger's illness, he shot 100 people there in norway and he was autistic. and this kid lived in a basement, literally, playing killing games. and his father was the vice president of g.e., so nothing was done with him. he was catatonic when he went to school. my question is this. congressman, why don't we start to think about the fact that
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other countries, even communist countries, allow their people to have weapons? because they think that people -- that countries like china and russia who would like to invade us and not have us so powerful in asia, they might come in here -- they are not going to come in here with pistols. they are going to come in with assault weapons. so we have two -- american people apparently, because they have the chance of being invaded from two coasts, so another thing if the president can have 20 guards around his children while they are in school, why can't we do what barbara boxer is suggesting and that is putting guards in schools so that we protect the children and not try to take weapons away from good people? host: ok, jan. guest: first of all, caller
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makes a good point. certainly as a part of this process we should be reviewing, but i would argue mostly local governments and state governments and local school boards and school add martors should be reviewing the -- administrators should be reviewing the safety of every school in the country. there are hundreds of thousands of school buildings in the united states, and the federal government can't afford to say we are going to pay for the security when we have debts that are over $1 trillion a year. . they have different needs, different resources, different ways to address this. i know the ones in my district, many of them are taking a close are the measures the best they can do, can they enhance those measures. fortunately these incidents in schools are rare out of the hundreds of thousands of schools, but that doesn't mean when they don't happen, when they are happen, they aren't
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serious tragedies so everybody should take a look at that. we have a constitutional right to own firearms in this country. that's very different than most other countries. people own firearms for a wide variety of reasons, and i think that as long as they are law abiding and they don't have serious mental abilities -- host: the caller brought up the new n.r.a. ad saying the president's children have guards with them. do you think that's appropriate? guest: i don't want to comment what the individual does, including the president of the united states, to protect their family members. everyone views what they need to do differently. and in this country we -- one of the reasons people do own firearms is provide protection for themselves and their families and we respect that. host: the western times noted that the president will recruit children today at his news
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conference, children who wrote letters to him. we'll be standing behind him when he talks about his proposals. here's a tweet from a viewer who says -- guest: well, first of all, a car is something that you drive on the public roads, and that is different than a gun which you may simply keep privately in your home. the fact that cars are not given special protection in the united states constitution is another difference, but with regard to weapons like machine guns, we do have a licensing system like that with very heavy background checks. but for conventional firearms, like the types of weapons that most people have in their homes, it's a freedom that we protect, and i think that we will continue to do that. and in order to make a system
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like the gentleman referred to work you would have to have a national registration system, and that is very, very controversial with a great many americans and not something that congress is likely to undertake to register everyone's firearm in the country. host: because of civil liberties? guest: right. host: bob, petersburg, virginia, independent. caller: thanks for letting c-span let me on this morning. i was a member of n.r.a. and told them to say don't call me no more because they were using the money to give to republicans to elect them with. since i am an independent i didn't like that. you know, another thing with n.r.a., they don't care really who becomes a member, whether you're a criminal or you can't own a gun legally. they don't care. they don't cleck for that. to me it's mainly the
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republicans when it comes to all the money. there should be something to stop people killing people and maybe it should be where something has to have insurance to carry a weapon and let them do the background checking on people if they couldn't insure themselves and they shouldn't own a gun. that's my comment. thank you. guest: the n.r.a. is a national organization that represents more than four million people. i assume most of them own firearms. over 100 million people in the united states own firearms. and so this is an issue that is much broader than any individual organization, and it's very, very important that organizations that want to protect our civil liberties, you know, represent the people that they represent, but it's also important that the congress recognize this is a much, much broader issue. again, the gentleman's suggestion would entail a licensing system.
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there are already very severe criminal penalties for possessing a firearm when you are a convicted felon, when you're a drug user, when you are under mental disabilities. even domestic violence cases, there's prohibition on owning a firearm. if you violate that, there's up to a 10-year prison sentence. there is a five-year prison sentence added on for any sentence when you use a gun with a crime. if anyone misuses a firearm they face civil liability to somebody who may be the victim of that. so there's lots of laws that address the whole issue of what your liability is if you misuse a firearm. host: we're talking with congressman bob goodlatte. he's the chairman of the judiciary committee and the committee that would take up any sort of gun control measures. this is our discussion ahead of the president's announcement later on this morning on what
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he would like to see be done on gun control. 11:45 a.m. eastern time here on c-span, we'll be covering that. we'll go to joe next who is in ohio, democratic caller. i think we just talked to joe. here is howie who is in philadelphia, republican. caller: good morning. i guess my license, if i didn't have my license, the choice will be harder for me now. you know, it's so unconstitutional. our second amendment has been destroyed by these national firearm acts and gun laws in 1968, 1930 laws. i mean, if there's anybody thinking about repealing any of these laws? the violence gets worse and worse. the government is just part of the problem. goodbye. guest: well, i appreciate the caller. obviously when we examine firearms laws we should look at them to see whether they are effectively and do what's intended to try to prevent tragedies like newtown or individual murders that take place in this country.
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but by the same token, we are going to continue to protect the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms and to make sure in a any new laws do not impinge on those rights and do not -- and do have, you know, some effect in terms of trying to prevent these tragedies. host: we'll go to tim next, boston, independent caller. caller: great. you caught me offguard there. host: sorry. lost your train of thought. tim, dwront you just hold and i'll come back to you in just a second. let me ask you about a senate judiciary chairman patrick leahy. he's quoted in the "washington post" this morning with the headline saying that he could slow down obama's efforts on gun control. have the two of you talked about any sort of compromise legislation? guest: we've had some good conversations in terms of the
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leadup to this new congress. he called to congratulate me, and he and i have had some discussions about different things that we might work together on, but we have not specifically spoken about gun issues. host: immigration reform? guest: we have not talked about immigration reform in the broader sense and my predecessor, lamar smith, had extensive discussions with regard to the legislation that the house passed at the end of the last congress in december to address a program that i've been trying to eliminate for many years called the visa lottery or visa diversity program. 55,000 green cards given away not based on family reunification or job skills that are needed in the united states but based on pure luck. that was then tied to a program to encourage people who attend u.s. universities with science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds to stay in the u.s., use those skills
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to grow our economy, help our country, rather than go back to their home country. host: the white house sees hope for bipartisan deal on immigration based on what senator marco rubio of florida, republican, has put out there. he's put some ideas out there. do you -- do you endorse liz ideas? guest: i have not spoken to senator rubio yet, but we welcome those ideas. there are others in the house that are working on specific proposals and wider ranging proposals, and we want to take a look at this. you know, we are a nation of immigrants. there is not a person to be found who's a u.s. citizen who can't go back a few generations or several generations and find someone in their family who came to the united states to better their lives. my grandfather came from germany. my wife's parents came from ireland. this is a very, very common thing.
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we are also a nation of laws. so finding a way to address this issue and fix a very broken immigration system will entail looking at a lot of different pieces of this, including enforcement and what you do with the millions of people who are not lawfully in the united states today. so we're willing to look at all those things and see what kind of common ground we can find. we're prepared to see how much common ground there is and the more there is then the more you can put in legislation. if you can't do something on a broader scope, then we'll take a look at individual pieces of legislation to address all these issues. host: would you agree to bathway to citizenship? guest: i would not agree to a pathway to citizenship for 10 million, 11 million people who are here illegally in the united states. but i would look at proposals dealing with the fact they are here and that knowing who they are, where they are and giving them some kind of legal status probably without a pathway to
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citizenship is something that is certainly worth talking about. host: ok. all right. boston, tim, independent, you have your thought back? caller: ok. gretta, thanks for bearing with me, -- greta, thanks for bearing with me, honey. host: second chance. go ahead, tim. caller: ok. now i just want to praise the representative for protecting the second amendment because, you know, it's weird watching you guys with the sound down and not hearing you. but, anyway. host: tim, listen through your phone. go ahead. caller: i'm listening through my phone. guest: we hear you. caller: i'm saying, thank you for protecting our civil rights because, you know what, the way you republicans are declaring war on the middle class and unions, we are going to need those second rights or the second amendment rights. i'm telling you, representative, people are
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going to get mad. and thank you for protecting our rights, because we will get mad. host: ok. guest: well, i don't care for the characterization of what the meaning of second amendment rights are but with regard about his complain about republicans, we are very much in favor of the middle class and keeping taxes low and reining in the power of this federal government and incentivizing the private sector to create jobs. and most importantly getting a handle on out-of-control spending here in washington which is the greatest danger to the future of our children and the middle class in general and that is debts that now total more than $16 trillion. and now a fifth year in a row where we are going to have a deficit exceeding a trillion dollars a year. that's the greatest threat to the middle class in america and we are committed to trying to address that problem. that's one of the reasons why i voted against the fiscal cliff deal. the president called for a
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balanced approach. i think his approach raising taxes is not the way to grow our economy. nonetheless, he indicated there would be spending cuts. there were not. in fact there were spending increases in that bill. host: fix boxer's original assault gun ban. echoing a recent poll that said 30% of those polled are dissatisfied with gun laws, want to see them strengthened. not specific gun laws but, you know, saying we need to reinstitute the assault weapons ban and fix it. guest: well, the evidence -- again, we are certainly willing to listen to proposals that are offered by the president and his commission and by others, but the original assault weapons ban was not a meaningful law because it did not distinguish between the so-called assault weapon and other types of firearms that fire bullets exactly the same way in which over 100 million americans are owners of these
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firearms. host: could i stop you there? guest: i think that's the problem with the assault weapons ban. people think it involves machine guns and it does not. host: the new york state, as you know, just passed legislation yesterday. it included assault weapons ban. this is the "new york post." i think this is what you're talking about here. the law is not ok. the law bans the purchased of automatic weapons with military assault features, such as a pistol grip on this rifle. guest: that refers to automatic weapons. and automatic weapons under federal law and most state laws as well and federal law supersedes a state law, cannot be purchased. a military-style automatic weapon cannot be purchased for a civilian in the united states today. host: ok. guest: if you want to collect them and own an older model, you have to go through extensive licensing and background checks in order to
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be able to do that. host: all right. guest: so the reich issue -- and i don't know that's a misprint by the reporter. i have not looked at the new york law. but the real issue is an effort -- and this was done by the united states congress. i voted against it back in 1994. it expired in 2004. i voted to repeal it in the meantime. but that was an effort to ban semiautomatic weapons and the way they distinguish those semiautomatic weapons called assault weapons from other semiautomatic weapons called hunting rifles and handguns, people use in their homes, is by the looks of the weapon. as i said earlier, the folding stock, the bayonet mount, the weapon functions the same way whether it's a hunting rifle or whether it is the so-called assault weapon. it is a meaningless law, and statistics show that during that time that the ban was in effect, it had no impact upon protecting united states citizens. so, again, i go back to the
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second amendment right that citizens have and, again, the court only recently held for the first time -- many people and i have believed for, you know, 200 years that they had the right to own weapons. the court confirmed that in a recent decision. it didn't say that the government couldn't step in and regulate, but when you step in in attempt to regulate what is effectively the way most modern weapons function, you are effectively taking away the right to own a firearm. there was no challenge back then that i know of that the court heard on whether it was constitutional, but i would suggest that kind of regulation is either meaningless or unconstitutional or both. host: let's go to our line for democrats. steven in illinois. go ahead, steven. caller: how are y'all doing today? host: good. guest: good. caller: i have two problems, really. one starts with the video games. i can't see -- i mean, where is the parents at?
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the video games are going to be the video games. i can't see how we could try to regulate something like that. to me it's wrong. host: we'll get a response on that, steven, because we haven't talked about that issue. guest: that's a good point. you know what we really ought to be talking about? family members. in cases of parents, certainly, but even parents when you have an adult son like mr. lanza, he was of age. they could do the most good of preventing the tragedies from happening. if she kept her weapon separated from her son or if she didn't have a weapon at home, that would be a different outcome. video games, parents needs to use discretion because there's lots of violence in them. television programs, movies, lots of it just plain misleading. you see cops and robbers shows where they're spraying bullets and so on. those are weapons that are illegal. you can't buy those kinds of weapons. but the question is, does this encourage people to engage in
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activities? i think it's very difficult for the congress and, remember, in addition to the second amendment, we also have a first amendment right of free speech that we're going to be having to look at too. it's very difficult for congress to legislate what can be contained in a motion picture or video game on the subject of violence. so parents, though, can exercise discretion and all people can exercise discretion in not frequenting these types of experiences that may be conducive to violence. there are studies that would support that they are conducive to violence, but it's very difficult for congress to regulate, and i would approach that with extreme caution because of the first amendment rights of people to freely express themselves. host: representative goodlatte, there is little attention given to psychiatric drug induced civilian/military violence and suicide. your comment. guest: i know the house energy
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and commerce committee will take a look at the mental health aspects of this as well as other committees like the judiciary committee and certainly i would like to know more about what drugs do to help prevent erratic behavior. but if this individual believes they can in some instances cause these problems, we should be looking at that as well. host: george in clarksville, tennessee, republican caller. caller: yes, hi. i just like to make a comment or two. i believe that any executive order regarding guns is always aimed at law-abiding citizens. this administration flooded the market with thousands of weapons for criminals and now it seems like he slowly wants to disarm our country. we can't control our borders. how will he -- i guess russian gun dealers are probably drooling. one other comment i'd like to make. he will be surrounded by children when he makes his announcement.
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it seems like during the gulf war, saddam hussein surrounded himself with children and that was a chilling video. those children were scared to death. thank you very much. guest: i think the caller makes a very good point with regard to the issue of focusing on criminals and unfortunately the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms and explosives is involved in a very serious issue which has been well discussed and we'll continue to examine this. the attorney general of the united states was held in contempt for not releasing information about the fwast and furious issue which resulted in the death of many people in mexico and at least one person in the united states, a bothered guard. so we should focus not on using guns in the manner the government did but on keeping guns out of the hands of
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criminals and enforcing those laws with regard to people who are not law-abiding citizens. and we certainly will continue to focus on that issue in specifically but in the broader issue of what the government is doing and are we doing enough to prevent criminals from getting access to weapons and punishing them when they use them in crimes. host: why didn't the r.n.c. allow concealed weapons during their convention in tampa? didn't that limit freedom? guest: i don't know the answer to that question. it may have to do with the secret service. as you know, all those candidates for president of the united states have secret service protection. once you're inside there they want to provide protection for these folks. when you go to a presidential rally, you're probably not allowed to carry your weapon into those or an event attended by the president, vice president or other people protected under that law. i am a strong supporter in general of concealed carry permits and have supported
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facilitating the ability of people who travel and 49 out of 50 states have a concealed carry law of one form or another to try to facilitate the ease of traveling from one state to another and have your concealed weapon, as long as you have a valid permit. host: all right. congressman bob goodlatte, judiciary chairman, thank you for your time and talking to our viewers. >> in just over half an hour we'll be live at the white house as president obama officially announces his plan for reducing gun violence. yesterday spokesman jay carney says the plan includes an assault weapons ban, a ban on high capacity magazines and an effort to close loopholes in the background check system. and he will issue 19 executive orders dealing with gun violence. that announcement coming after the president received recommendations from the task force headed by vice president joe biden. we'll have the announcement live at 11:55 eastern and follow up with your phone calls
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and comments. gun violence will be the topic of a meeting this afternoon. newtown, connecticut school superintendent is among those who will be appearing before the committee. philadelphia mayor michael nutter and emily nottingham, whose son, gabe giffords, died in the tucson shooting, house minority leader nancy pelosi is also scheduled to attend that meeting this afternoon. 2:00 p.m. eastern. we'll have it live on c-span. until the president gets under way with his comments at 11:55, comments from "washington journal" viewers from this morning. host: now, president obama later this morning will be outlining the recommendations put forth by vice president joe biden. part of them will be some executive action. this is from our website c-span.org. following recommendations presented to him by the v.p., president obama will announce at the white house his
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proposals to reduce gun violence. reports have said that he plans to ask congress to pass legislation to ban assault weapons, prohibit the sale of large capacity magazine clips and universal background checks. the president may also announce several executive orders which will take effect immediately to curb the violence. so the big ticket items, the assault weapons ban, those sort of things, need congressional approval. president obama will be faking some sort of executive action and we'll talk about that later this morning. 11:45 a.m. eastern time is when we're expecting the president. look for our coverage here on c-span. on the executive orders, do you think -- do you support that idea by the president to do action on his own? we want to hear from you this morning, get your take on it. here's the arizona republic, courtesy of the museum here in washington saying the broad package of obama today is expected to include more than a
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dozen steps that the president can take through his own executive action. host: what's your take on this? do you support action on some gun control measures? just want to know what you think about president obama using the executive order. want to show you the -- this is from the "washington post" blog this morning. it says -- the vast majority of actions he can take is minor in nature. it's unlike that obama can significantly alter gun law
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through executive order. of course the reality of what obama can do via executive order and the perception of his using executive privilege to alter or reinforce laws are two very different things.
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host: what's your take on this? steven, muncie, indiana, republican caller. hello, steven. caller: yes, my take on this is that the problem with bypassing congress is that congress can actually strip funding from the a.t.f. or the f.b.i. on whatever executive action is taken. and i understand bush had an executive order dealing with guns as well. so it's not unprecedented, but 19 is kind of high. and so you can actually see that this may help the republican party in the mid term elections. you may also see a 2/3 majority vote in the senate and the house if there is some kind of aggressive stance toward -- because democrat constituents live in some of the most dangerous districts in america. host: 2/3 majority vote to undo
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any executive action? caller: if the democrats believe it will hurt their election in the mid term election, i will see that happening. i've been getting phone calls from unhappy democrats that live in dangerous districts and they want for able to protect themselves. host: why are you gutting those phone calls? what do you do? caller: basically i know democrats and that's why harry reid -- that's why democrats really haven't been talking about it on television. the house or the senate members because they have constituents that support gun control like harry reid's district. host: yeah. caller: so it's a major issue. now both -- i believe the background checks at the gun shows, there's things that i believe that can pass congress without using executive action. but people, the fear is there and we have to -- george bush,
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he'd done it as well, but we have to relinquish the fear, and i think by going through congress and getting it passed by congress, it will be less drama in trying to strip funding from the a.t.f. through congress, through the continuing resolution. host: steven, do you think if president obama does these executive orders, does that, as the "washington post" said, poison the well for even background checks, let alone the assault weapons ban, etc.? caller: well, the background check, i don't think -- there's already federal background checks. so he may expand that law. host: yeah. caller: through executive. host: steven, take a look at what the "washington post" says president obama is expected to say later this morning. background checks for firearms -- background checks for all firearm buyers, prohibit assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips. mental health and school safety initiatives.
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more funding for police officers in schools. this is the "washington post" there morning. most of those would have to be done by congress, but perhaps he does some other enhance the database and that sort of thing by executive order. caller: yes. see, the mental health is a major gap there. defining who's crazy, who's not, is somebody just stressed because they lost their job. it's going to be difficult to define mental health. how do they get access to those records? are they federal? so that's the thing. people will say, is my doctor spying on me, is my psychiatrist spying on me? there may be less people going to see a psychiatrist or therapist because they may fear
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they will report the information back to the federal government. host: let's go back to the politics of this. george wrote this headline. "why are democrats getting soft on assault weapons ban?" . so george zornick writing this from "the nation." dianne feinstein ready to introduce her assault weapons ban in the 113th congress. we'll go to chris in washington. independent. caller: hello. host: hi, chris. host: i am very, very much against more legislation on guns. it's absolutely totally nonsense. we're back to demonizing of inan mant objects. if we want to get rid of things
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deadly, let's ban the damn automobile. we tried this with brady when she pushed the assault weapons ban then. it didn't lower crime. that's not the issue. host: ok. what do you think is the issue then, chris? where do you see compromise? caller: i don't see compromise. why should this be even an issue? the press, a media-driven emergency. other than that, it is none. host: ok. all right. chris, "the new york times," you might be interested in this. their front page story.
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host: we'll go next, dennis -- to dennis in upper marlboro, maryland. good morning. caller: good morning. first, let me thank you for the opportunity. you know, the gentleman just before me, he's the perfect example why we need everything coming out of the white house with these executive orders to get rid of these bushmasters, niece automatic rifles and whatever. the people on the far right that's pushing this madness, they are paranoid, first of all. you can hear it in their voice, you can hear it in their arguments, you can hear about it in the way they walk. i believe that everybody should be able to protect themselves in their homes or whatever. you should have a weapon, but
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if you are sitting there with an ak-47 assault rifle in your home, there's something wrong with you. it's perspectives. these people sit back and a lot of them play these violent video games and whatever and they get all juiced up, and especially kids. they want to go out here and try this stuff for real. they can't see the difference between the video games and the real things. i am behind the president 150% on this one. you know, anybody that can witness what happened with those children and the school a month ago, anybody that can see that carnage and still want to carry weapons of mass destruction, i call them, they're lunatics. host: ok. all right, dennis, we'll leave it there.
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president obama later today announcing what he wants congress to do, what he would support and then also executive action. here's from "the wall street journal." on tuesday representative steve stockton, republican of texas -- host: the n.r.a. put out a new ad yesterday. take a look. >> are the president's kids
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more important than yours? then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school? mr. obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to fair share of security. protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours. host: that's the latest ad by the n.r.a. put out yesterday getting a lot of feedback about the ad using the -- invoking the president's children in that. "the washington times" has this headline. the only headline about president obama's event later this morning. obama recruits children to push gun bans. acting a month after the connecticut school shooting, president obama will unveil sweeping package of gun control wednesday and will challenge congress to ban high-capacity
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magazines and military-style semiautomatic rifles involved in recent shooting rampages. host: that is our question for all of you. if president obama acts on his own for executive action, do you support idea of that? we're getting your take on that this morning. we'll go to sandra if sulphur springs, texas, a republican there. hi, sandra. caller: hi. how are you? host: good morning. caller: good morning. i just have a question to ask the rest of the people listening to this. what about the fort hood shooting? has anybody thought about how many guns were there? the man walked in, he was a psychologist, and he walked in and killed our soldiers in fort hood. now, what is the gun ban going
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to do on that? what is -- what does obama think about that? host: ok. sandra, what do you think the president taking some actions on his own? caller: i'm texan. i don't think anybody ought to take our guns away. host: all right. so, sandra, you think any action by the president will be taking guns away. so "politico" reported yesterday about these 19 executive actions, one of them being -- could include given the centers of disease control and prevention authority to conduct national research on guns. more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws and pushing for wider sharing of existing gun database. you see that as taking away guns, is that right, sandra? caller: i just don't -- i just do not think he ought to have the power to do that. i think that's just not -- i'm curious to see what other people think about the fort
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hood shooting. nobody talks about that. soldiers. host: ok, sandra. rick who is a gun owner. independent caller. hi, rick. caller: good morning. host: what do you think about this? caller: i think it's pretty crazy. i really -- like your one caller that said the gun owners are the ones playing the shoot 'em up games, i think we're the exact opposite. at least responsible parents and responsible gun owners are not the ones playing the shoot 'em up games and having the false sense of confidence. it's not us at all. and ar-15, the assault weapon that is supposedly used in connecticut, was left in his car. how are these people saying that's the weapon that was used when it was left in his car? it's already come out there's video footage they found in his car. he used handguns. so how is that -- what's going on with that? host: rick, what about compromise? do you see any compromise?
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caller: well, it's the second amendment. there should not be any compromise. i think it is absolutely ridiculous that they're even talking about compromise. it's not meant for hunting. it's meant for our personal protection. and these people that are saying that, you know, you have to do everything that the government says, why are we trusting in the federal government? our founding fathers told us to do the exact opposite, not trust the government. not saying we have to be crazy, you know, conspiracy theorists. there is a reason why. i believe it was thomas jefferson that said we don't need our guns until they take them and we don't need the second amendment until they try and take it. host: ok. ozzie in tennessee. independent caller. hi, ozzie. caller: good morning to you.
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host: good morning. caller: i was going to say the last few callers, the people that think about this understand the second amendment has nothing to do with hunting. has everything to do with protecting yourself against a tyrannical government of which this one is far more tyrannical than any government in the past 30 years. yet people will tell you these high magazines, you don't need those for hunting. hunting has nothing to do with this. it's a protection against an invasion. the army will squash us in a heartbeat. we're here to protect against people who will do us harm. one or two bullets at a time might not make it if five or six people are trying to break into your house. you need 20 or 30 rounds per magazine. host: all right. interior secretary ken salazar is set to resign. the fox news confirmed. and then also this morning watching the president what he might say about other cabinet
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appointments this week. as we know, treasury secretary tim geithner will step down as well as the labor secretary, secretary of state hillary clinton, and the defense secretary. so ken salazar stepping down from the administration. he will resign and president obama will have to fill that post. back to whether or not you support executive action on gun control measures. senator rand paul talked about this recently. he said that president obama is acting like a king. here's what he had to say. >> i've been opposed to executive orders even with republican presidents but one that wants to infringe on the second amendment, we will fight tooth and nail and i promise you there will be no rock left unturned as far as him usurping the constitution, running roughshod over congress, and you will see one heck of a debate if he decides to try to do that. host: that was representative rand paul.
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jerry, gun owner. what do you think? caller: good morning. how are you? i am not in favor of president obama's executive action against gun ownership. i mean, we were founded a right to bear arms. it shall not be infringed. i agree with rand paul. i believe we should leave it up to congress to have it out there and have that vote. it is to defend ourselves and defend our against tyranny and i believe the founding fathers made that a key thing when they put that amendment there. the american people got to understand less guns, including assault rifles, including to what most callers call assault rifles, ar-15's, they believe taking away those rifles are going to actually reduce crime. but if we take a look at countries like england and australia where they totally
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ban their weapons, the crime rate increased. crime rates increased. and i believe i was watching something -- host: where did you hear that? let me read this from "the new york times" this morning. more serious steps, like those taken by australia, which reacted by a 1996 mass shooting, importation of semiautomatic rifles and by removing 700,000 guns in circulation is seen as politically untenable. what do you think? caller: i think it's comparing gun for gun. what about stabbings or beatings or robberies or burglaries? england has the highest crime rate in all of europe. there is a lot of testimony that i heard over the --
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wanting americans not to give up their gun rights. there was an article i read, and i can't quote it at this time, but there was an individual who actually had a self-defense case in england and he defend himself and shot one of the individuals and killed him and he was convicted of murder for defending his own home. defended his own land. and the individual that burglarized his home was convicted of 28 prior convictions and released in two years and sued the man. the man was not in violation of -- is imposing any kind of burglary or robbery or harm to anybody else had to do life in prison while the criminal was granted re-- released within two to three years. host: ok. jerry on facebook, here are comments from our viewers.
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host: so those are some of the comments on our facebook page. facebook.com/c-span if you ared from in that. front page of "the daily news" this morning.
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host: don, columbia, missouri, you're a gun owner there. what do you think of president obama possibly taking executive
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action? caller: oh, i'm fully for it. i'm a -- been a gun owner since 1957, a hunter, a sporting place shooter. i have 19 guns at home and i'm for it because i also run -- owned a gunshop for 10 years. i'm a past 12-year member of the n.r.a. i think wayne lapierre and his whole group is a bunch of nut cases and these right wingers saying about taking your guns away, i went try this, had my gunshop under president clinton and every other day some right winger would come in and talk about taking our guns away and no democratic president has ever talked about taking all of our guns away. they want to get rid of these -- what they call black guns. and i'm totally for it. i told my wife when i walk out the door with an ar-15-type gun with two 30-round magazines,
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she can knock me in the head because you don't need those type of weapons as far as i'm concerned. host: so, don, you owned a store for 10 years? caller: yes. host: describe -- you know -- describe what it was like to have people come in there. how did you form this opinion that you have formed given that you owned a gun store? caller: oh, just it was a daily thing. i live in a small enough town here that i know -- knew a lot of the people or knew of a lot of the people. and every day -- almost every day i would have these right wingers come in and maybe sometimes two or three of them and they would walk in. first thing they'd hit the door start running down president clinton at that time and going to take all of our guns away. always going to take the guns away. host: let me ask you about background checks. how did it work? caller: i don't know how it
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works as far as personally knowing how it works. i don't have a problem with background checks. of course when i had my gun store even, i can tell you i would go to some of these offsite gun sales that they are talking about, these gun shows, and they'd be out in the parking lot dealing with guns with no registration or whatsoever, and, you know, those type of things are what has caused all of this to happen to our gun lobbyists and what not right now is if these right-wing nut cases -- >> all of this available in our video library at c-span.org. we are going to take you now to the white house executive office building where president obama shortly will detail his plan for and proposed legislation and proposals for gun violence in the wake of the shootings in newtown, connecticut, and following the hearings and the deliberations of the gun panel, headed by vice president joe biden, we'll be hearing from the president shortly. live coverage here on c-span.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the president and vice president of the united states. >> excuse me, mr. president. >> please, please be seated. thank you. before -- before i begin today, let me say to the families of the innocence that died, our hearts go out to you and you
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incredible courage being here and the president and i will do everything in our power to honor the memory of your children and your wives with the work we take up here today. it's been 33 days since the nation's heart was broken by the horrific, senseless violence that took place at sandy hook elementary school. 20 -- 20 beautiful first graders gunned down in a place that's supposed to be their second sanctuary. six -- six members of the staff killed trying to save those children. it's literally been hard for the nation to comprehend, hard for the nation to fathom. and i know for the families who are here, time is not measured in days but it's measured in minutes, in seconds since you received that news. another minute without your daughter, another minute
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without your son, another minute without your wife, another minute without your mom. i want to personally thank chris and lynn mcdonald who lost a beautiful daughter, grace, and the other parents who i had a chance to speak to, for their suggestions and for, again, just for their -- the courage of all of you to be here today. i admire -- i admire the grace and the resolve that you all are showing. i must say i have been deeply affected by your faith as well. and the president and i are going to do everything we can to try to match the resolve you've demonstrated. no one can know for certain if this senseless act could have been prevented, but we all know we have a moral obligation, a moral obligation to do everything in our power to diminish the prospect of
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something like this ever happening geb gwen. as the president knows, i've worked in this field a long time in the united states senate having chaired a committee that had jurisdiction over these issues of guns and crime and having drafted the first gun violence legislation -- the last gun violence legislation, i should say. and i have no illusions what we're up against or how hard the task is in front of us. but i also have never seen a nation's conscience so shaken by what happened in sandy hook. the world has changed and it's demanding action. it's in this context that the president asked me to put together along with cabinet members a set of recommendations of how we should proceed to meet that moral obligation we have. toward that end the cabinet members and i sat down with 229 groups -- not just individuals representing groups, 229 groups, from law enforcement
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agencies to public health officials to gun officials to gun advocacy groups to sportsmen and hunters and religious leaders. and i've spoken with members of congress on both sides of the aisle, had an extensive conversation with mayors and governors and county officials. and the recommendations we provided to the president on monday called for executive actions he could sign, legislation he could call for and long-term research that should be undertaken. they're based on the emerging consensus we heard from all the groups we spoke, including some of you who are victims of this god you aful occurrence. ways to keep guns out of the wrong hands as well as to take comprehensive action to prevent violence in the first place. we should do as much as we can as quickly as we can and we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. so some of what you'll hear from the president will happen immediately. some will take some time, but we have begun and we are
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starting here today. we are resolved to continue this fight. during the meetings in a we held, we met with a young man who is here today, i think colin is here. where are you, colin? colin was one of the survivors of the virginia tech massacre. he was in the classroom. he calls himself one of the lucky seven, and he'll tell you, he was shot four times on that day and he has three bullets that is still inside him. and when i asked colin about what he thought we should be doing, he said that he said, i'm not here because of what happened to me. i'm here because of what happened to me keeps happening to other people and we have to do something about it. colin, we will. colin, i promise you we will. this is our intention. we must do what we can now and there's no person who is more committed to acting on this
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moral obligation we have than the president of the united states of america. ladies and gentlemen, president barack obama. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. thank you so much. thank you, everybody. please have a seat. good afternoon, everybody. let me begin by thanking our vice president, joe biden, for your dedication, joe, to this issue, for bringing so many different voices to the table, because while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisive one. over the month since the tragedy in newtown, we've heard from so many, and obviously none have affected us more than the families of those gorgeous
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children and their teachers and guardians who were lost, and so we're grateful for all of you taking the time to be here and recognizing that we honor their memories in part by doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again. we also heard from unexpected people. in particular, i started getting a lot of letters from kids. four of them are here today. graham, julia, kenny and taja. they're pretty represented of some of the messages that i got. these are some pretty smart letters from some pretty smart young people. henna, a third grader. you can go ahead and wave, henna. that's you. henna wrote, i feel terrible
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for the parents who lost their children. i love my country, and i want everybody to be happy and safe. and then grant -- go ahead and wave, grant. grant said, i think there should be some changes. we should learn from what happened at sandy hook. i feel really bad. and then julia said -- julia, where are you? there you go. i'm not scared for my safety. i'm scared for others. i have four brothers and sisters, and i know i would not be able to bear the thought of losing any of them. and these are our kids. this is what they're thinking about. and so what we should be thinking about is our responsibility to care for them and shield them from harm and give them the tools they need to grow up and do everything
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that they're capable of doing, not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country. this is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe. this is how we will be judged, and their voices should compel us to change. . that's why last month i asked joe to lead alon with members of our cabinet to come up with concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country. and we can't put this off any longer. just last thursday as tv networks were covering one of joe's meetings, on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in california.
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in the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at sandy hook elementary, more than 00 of our fellow americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun -- more than 900 of our fellow mens have reportedly died at the end of a gun, 900 in the past month. every day we wait, that number will keep growing. so i'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of joe's task force, and in the days ahead i tend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil
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, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, then we have an obligation to try it. and i'm going to do my part. as soon as i'm finished speaking here, i will sit at that desk and i'll sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals, and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence. we will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system. we will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans. we will make sure mental health professals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be
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a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator. and while year after year those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, i will direct the senters for disease control to go a -- centers for disease control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it, and congress should fund research the effect violent video games have on gun violence. we don't been fit from not knowing the science -- benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence. these are a few of the 23 executive actions that i am announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action for members of congress. to make a real and lasting
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difference, congress, too, must act. and congress must act soon. and i'm calling on congress to pass some very specific proposals right away. first, it's time for congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. [applause] the law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years that's kept 1.4 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. but it's hard to enforce that law when as many as 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. that's not safe. that's not smart. it's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. if you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed
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dealer or a private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a ifon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one. this is common sense. and an overwhelming majority of americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70% of the national rifle association's members, according to one survey. so there is no reason he we can't do this. -- no reason we can't do this. second, congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines. [applause] the type of assault rifle used in aurora, for example, when paired with high capacity magazines, has one purpose, to pop out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible. to do as much damage using bullets often designed to
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inflict maximum damage. that's what allowed the gunman in aurora to shoot 70 people, 70 people, killing 12, in a matter of minutes. weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. a majority of americans agree with us on this. and by the way, so did ronl reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the second amendment, who wrote to congress in 1994 urging them, this is ronald reagan speaking, urging them to listen to the american public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons. [applause] finally, congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it does its job. we should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and
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selling them to criminals. and we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this. since congress hasn't confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, they should confirm todd jones who will be -- who has been acting and i will be nominating for the post. [applause] and at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets. let me be absolutely clear, like most americans i believe the second amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. i respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights
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of hunters and sportsmen. there are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in america who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection. i also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the second amendment while keeping an irresponsible law breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale. i believe most of them agree that if america worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in newtown. that's what these reforms are designed to do. they are commonsense measures. they have the support of the majority of the american people. and yet that doesn't mean any of this will be easy to enact or implement. if it were, we would already have universal background checks. the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines never would have been allowed to expire.
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more of our fellow americans might still be alive celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. this will be difficult. there will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all-out assault on liberty. not because that's true but because they want to generate fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. and behind the scenes they'll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. the only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different. if this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.
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i will put everything i've got into this and so will joe, but i tell you, the overwhelm way we can change is -- only way we can change is if the american people demand it. by the way, that doesn't just mean from certain parts of the country. we are going to need voices in those areas, those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important. it can't just be the usual suspects. we have to examine ourselves and our hearts. and ask ourselves what is important. this will not happen unless the american people demand it. if parents, if teachers, police officers, and pastors, if hunters and sportsmen, if
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responsible gun owners, if americans of every background stand up and say, enough, we suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come. that's what it's going to take. in the letter that julia wrote me she said, i know that laws have to be passed by congress. but i beg you to try very hard. julia, i will try very hard. but she's right, the most important changes we can make depend on congressional action. they need to bring these proposals up for a vote and the american people need to make sure that they do. get them on record. ask your member of congress if they support universal
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background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands. ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines. and if they say no, ask them why not? ask them what's more important, doing whatever it takes to get an a grade from the gun lobby that fund their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade? [applause] this is the land of the free and it always will be. as americans, we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us. but we have also long recognized as our founders recognized that
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with rights come responsibilities. along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same. we don't live in isolation. we live in a society. a government of and by and for the people. we are responsible for each other. you have the right to worship freely and safely. that right was denied to sikhs in oak creek, wisconsin. the right to assemble peacefully. that right was denied shoppers in oregon and moviegoers in aurora, colorado. that most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at virginia tech and high school
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students at columbine, and elementary school students in newtown and kids on street corners in chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate, all the families who never imagined that they would lose a loved one to a bullet, those rights are at stake. we are responsible. and when i visited newtown last responsibility, i -- month, i spent some private time with many families who lost their children that day, one was the family of grace mcdonald, grace's parents are here, grace was 7 years old when she was struck down. just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl. i'm told he she loved the beach, she dreamed of becoming a painter and so just before i
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left chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings. and i hung it in my private study just off the oval office. and every time i look at that painting i think about grace. and i think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her and most of all i think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us we must act now. for grace. for the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give. for the men and women in big cities and small towns who small victims to senseless violence each and every day. for all the americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm. let's do the right thing. let's do the right thing for
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them and for this country that we love so much. [applause] thank you. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013]
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>> president obama signing 23 executive orders on gun violence, part of what some people are calling the broadest range of gun violence proposals since 1968. on december 14, after december 14, in the wake of newtown shootings, vice president biden was tasked with leading a task
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force looking into gun violence. he reported to the president earlier this week after those meetings and hearings, and the president today unveiling those proposals here at the executive office building next to the white house. we are going to open up our phone lines to find out your thoughts on the president's proposals. couple ways for you to participate by phone. the democratic line is 202-585-3885. for republicans that's 202-585-3886. independence and others, 202-585-3887. we'll also keep an eye on our facebook page, facebook.com/c-span. and the hash tag on twitter is gun controls. just broadly what the president proposed, 23 executives orders. he calls for strengthening background checks for all gun buyers. it would prohibit assault weapons and high capacity ammunition clips. also calling for mental health and school safety initiatives.
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more federal funding for police officers in schools. enhanced federal scientific research. on that specifically he was going to order the c.d.c. to conduct a study on gun violence. and the president called for modernizing the federal data basis tell to track guns, criminals, and the mentally ill. he also called on congress to approve todd james as his nominee to head the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. calls waiting from wisconsin. richard, where are you calling from? what's your state in caller: kansas. host: go ahead with your comments. caller: i believe what the president is doing with his executives orders, i think he has every right in the orlando to do that. you have people call in and say that he does not have the right. they need to read about the powers of the presidency. and you have these people saying they need these 30-round clips and assault weapons to protect theirselves and family. if it takes 30 rounds of
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ammunition to save their family, then they are in a pretty hot war zone. you cannot hunt with a high-powered rifle like that. i have shot a deer with one. it tore the whole front half of it off. host: thanks for your call. republican line. chris. caller: hi. i think that this is dictatorship. he needs to let congress handle this as the constitution. perfect example of too much government and looking at the t.s.a. they started out just simply saying we are just going to search you to protect you. now they are going into your pants and doing all kind of stuff. that is absolutely unsavory. that is a perfect example of too much government and too much control and i am not for the president getting involved to this extent. if he says it's easy, it shouldn't be a problem, if it shouldn't be a problem put it through congress and put it to a vote on the floor who represents the people of the united states of america.
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host:ing on the proposals president obama some specific legislation, 23 executive orders as we mentioned, and also a call for more federal research. louisiana, this is shanda, independent line. caller: yes. i just wanted to say, it's not about controlling guns in the hands of people who can buy guns under what the law says. criminals don't buy guns. criminals steal guns. and unless you can put a law into effect to keep criminals from breaking into people's houses and stealing guns, then making the gun laws tougher for the people that can actually buy guns to get them is not going to solve anything. host: ahead of the president's comments this morning, the hill reporting the national rifle association hours before the president debuted his plan to combat gun violence, they called the president, quote, an elitist hypocrite for opposing the gun
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lobby's proposal to place armed guards in schools. the white house reaction to that just before the president spoke, the white house says, the n.r.a. video referencing the president's daughters are, quote, repugnant and cowardly. just before the president spoke today, senator patrick leahy, the chair of the senate judiciary committee, talked about the first item in his speech was gun legislation that will come before congress and the hearings that will happen two weeks from tomorrow. he was in the audience with the president just a short while ago, but also this morning at georgetown university. >> two weeks from today the senate judiciary committee will begin examining possible remedies for tragedies like last month's shootings in newtown. i believe these will be the first congressional hearings since that happened. the questions we face about our national gun policy extend beyond the tragic issues of mass murder. they extend to how we care for
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those with mental illness. how we manage the exposure of children to violence in media and simple matters of gun safety. it's going to be an open forum for constructive discussion. again, spare me symbolic arguments. let's have a constructive discussion about how better to protect our communities from mass shootings or respecting fundamental rights guaranteed by our supreme court. now, like many other gun owners i believe that we should strengthen our federal laws to combat gun trafficking. we should ensure that those seeking to purchase guns do so with real background checks. that's only part of what's needed. as president obama's made clear, no single step can end this kind of violence. but the fact that we cannot do everything that could help
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should not paralyze us from doing anything that can help. so i'll go to the white house when i leave here. i'm looking forward to reviewing the proposals the president is announcing today. of course the judiciary committee will consider those proposals as we begin will be the first of several hearings on this topic. then we have the question of first responders. i'm going to keep the committee's focus on partnerships that protect our first responders like the public safety officers benefits act. i'm going to re-authorize the lifesaving bulletproof vest partnership grant program. was proud to offer that bipartisan in 1998 with senator ben "nighthorse" campbell. he we recently provided the one millionth bulletproof vest to a state law enforcement agency. these are not abstract things.
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first responders are flesh and blood lifelines to each and every one of us. they run into buildings like sandy hook elementary out of a sense of duty even though they knew they were putting their lives on the line. had they not responded as quickly as they did, that tragedy would have been even worse. had they not been there immediately, more children would have died. we count on them. we ought to let them count on us. we have some who argue that federal assistance to first responders is somewhat unconstitutional. balderdash. they are wrong, they should stop stalling these important initiatives. host: that is senator patrick leahy from this morning at georgetown university talking about the entire judiciary committee agenda for 2013. again guns on the agenda. we are going to show you-all of the comments by senator leahy right after our conversation with you by phone.
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we'll get back to our phones here in almond, georgia. jerry's on our republican line. go ahead with your comments. thanks for waiting. caller: this is a comment saying in a hypocritical way to use children, i'm so sorry for the little town, but when you take and turn that around the president and congress and senate make it legal to kill thousands of babies for abortion each and every year, yet they go around and try to stop someone with a gun. gun is important. gun is important to people. and i'm sure there should be something done about some of the guns being made, but at the same time there should be something done in trying to control the spending of our country and taking our country down the drain. every time you make a new law to spend more money, that's ridiculous.
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we need to get it down where they can live by the people that works. thank you very much. host: rock port, illinois. our independence line. hi. are you there? i'm sorry, we picked up on lionel in new york. i apologize. caller: good afternoon. i just wanted to make a couple points. first off i actually live in a gun violent prevalent neighborhood. i do live in housing. now, police come out here at least once a week. by controlling guns of individuals who have done well by themselves, they do well, and abide by the rules, control their guns, it's not right. and for the president to come in and step in and says you are not going to be able to do this any longer, i understand assault rifles, limitation to it, fine.
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that's good. to limit the assault rifles. but what's to stop an individual from taking one handgun here in new york they just cut down from 10 rounds to seven rounds. what's to stop an individual from having four clips going into a theater and shooting up the exact same amount of people that individual -- you know it's just. host: was that part of the new gun law passed by the legislature there? caller: yeah. it's over here in new york. i just think it's insane. you are limiting the ammunition capacity. that's fine. that's understandable. but why is it that you are telling people you can't buy these guns? that's essentially what's happening. host: thank for your call. we did want to show you specifically what the president is proposing to ask congress for. here's what he had to say.
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>> first it's time for congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun. [applause] the law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years that's kept 1.4 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. but it's hard to enforce that law when as many as 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check. that's not safe. that's not smart. that's not fair to responsible gun buyers or sellers. if you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer or private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one. this is common sense. and an overwhelming majority of
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americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks. including more than 70% of the national rifle association's members, according to one survey. so there's no reason we can't do this. second, congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons and a 10-round limit for magazines. [applause] of assault rifle used in aurora, for example, when paired with high capacity magazines, has one purpose, to pop out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible. to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. and that's what allowed the gunman in aurora to shoot 70 people, 70 people, killing 12. in a matter of minutes.
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weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. a majority of americans agree with us on this. and by the way, so did ronald reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the second amendment, who wrote to congress in 1994 urging them, this is ronald reagan speaking, urging them to listen to the american public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons. [applause] finally, congress needs to help rather than hinder law enforcement as it does its job. we should get tougher on people who buy guns with the express purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals. and we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this.
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since congress hasn't confirmed a director of the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms in six years, they should confirm todd jones who will be -- who has been acting and i will be nominating for the post. [applause] host: president obama, part of his gun violence proposal. his legislative proposals. and word from michael steal, the spokesman for house speaker john boehner, house committees of jurisdiction will review these recommendations and if the senate passes a bill we will also take a look at that. that from michael steele, spokesman for john boehner. as you may recall senator patrick leahy said in those comments that the senate judiciary committee would begin hearings two weeks from today, january 30. we'll show you-all of his comments momentarily. first before we get to calls, a couple of looks at tweets. lots of tweets. here's one from alex who says,
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today doesn't have anything to do with saving lives. it's about politicians trying to pass gun control legislation they have sought for years. another view from nia who says, biden, the president and i are going to do everything we can to match your resolve. he says to the sandy hook parents in the audience. dan says that criminals are laughing their butts off. they commit crime and lawful owners get the penalties. one more from christa who says, machine guns are made for killing people. you do not hunt for sport or food with them. they need to be illegal. now to our independent line, jo ann in lock port, illinois. welcome. go ahead. caller: i was really glad to see obama and someone coming forward to try to do something about what happened when one person can go in there and do that to all those people, there's something really gruesome about our -- gangs out there, asking people how many are they going to hurt. i'm just glad to see and i hope
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it works out that they do something about it. thank you very much for taking my call. host: tennessee next, randy on our republican line. caller: yeah. criminals are still going to be criminals, whether you put laws in effect or not. they are still going to kill people with whatever they can. there's already laws against murder. it's still happening. there's laws against drugs, they are still on our streets. i don't see how a law preventing lawful people from buying guns is going to help anything. host: to arkansas next. cheryl is a democratic caller there. caller: yes. host: make sure you mute your television there. caller: i will. thank you. i would like to thank c-span for being so professional about this matter and president barack obama and joe biden for addressing the people of the united states.
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if we come together on this, we can come to an agreement and i would like to thank both the president of the united states and joe biden and c-span for making this so professional for people to understand that this is a united states. we must come together on this. it is a sad occasion that so many people are so negative about this. thank you. host: one more call here to our republican line now. columbia city is it missouri? where are you calling from? caller: jin. host: go ahead with your comments. caller: this is all about stimulating the economy and everything. what about the hundreds of manufacturers and their jobs. these people will be out of work. host: josh gets the last word. a reminder you can continue the conversation on line with our facebook page, facebook.com/c-span. also on twitter using the #gun
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control. coming up this afternoon we'll bring you live coverage of a discussion up on capitol hill, the house democratic steering and policy committee looking at the issue of gun violence. they'll hear from the newtown connecticut school superintendent, and the philadelphia mayor. that's coming up at 2:00 eastern. live here on c-span. we also plan to he show you the president's comments once again this evening at :00 even here on c-span. you can find it in our video library as well. you saw some of the comments earlier from senator patrick leahy, the chairman of the judiciary committee. next up his entire speech and questions from law students at georgetown university, a preview of the judiciary committee's agenda for 2013. >> dean, thank you very, very much.
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they were fortunate when they had you down in bridal burrough, but i think my alma mater is fortunate to have you here now. you said about making the choice georgetown. i was saying to my wife and others that as i was preparing for this speech i thought again just how pleased i made the choice i did on committee assignments. i actually look forward to being back here at georgetown to talk about my agenda. i have done this before. also in the senate judiciary committee when we come in to session the first meeting in the new congress there will be three georgetown law center graduates on the senate judiciary committee. myself, of course senator durbin, who is the majority --
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deputy majority leader in the senate, and senator hirono from hawaii. it's going to be -- i enjoy that committee the most of any committee i have served on. because every day it's like going back to school. something i enjoyed immensely. this here at georgetown, and i brag about you because where i was taught in great elaborate detail i might add, about the values embodied in the constitution and about the rule of law, but also about the majesty of our legal traditions. and i say to the students, there is majesty in america's legal traditions. this is where i learned to argue. i also learned to appreciate different sides of complicated issues, and then to search for
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solutions. i never imagined then i was going to work in the area of broad legal constitutional issues that come before the senate judiciary committee. in my years there i think i have seen just about every kind of legal or constitutional issue there is. so i look forward to chairing it again. in that committee what we do touches the lives of 300 million americans. we are going to talk about issues ranging from the freedom of the press to the right to bear arms. and we are privileged to consider legislation and nominations affecting many of our pressing challenges, as well as our fundamental rights and our most basic freedoms. every single lifetime judge, federal judge goes through that committee. i expect that the judiciary
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committee is going to devote most of our time this spring to work on a comprehensive immigration reform. few topics are more fundamental to who we are as a nation than immigration. immigration throughout our history has been an ongoing source of the renewal of our spirit and our creativity, our vitality. from the young students who are brought to this country by their parents seeking a better life for themselves, the hardworking men and women who play vital roles supporting our farmers, innovating for our technology companies, or creating businesses on their own, our nation relies on immigrants. we have to find a way through the partisan gridlock to enact meaningful change on immigration laws, and that should include a path to citizenship. and tackling this complex issue.
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let's get away from partisan symbolism. let's uphold the fundamental values of family, hard work, and fairness. so next month we are going to begin this national discussion, the full senate judiciary committee, with public hearings. i know i'm going to hear a lot of different views on this, but i hope in the end we can honor those who came before us from distant lands in search of freedom and opportunity. i wonder where the -- with the attitude of some today if when my grandparents came to vermont from italy whether they would have been allowed to become citizens, or my great grandparents when they came from ireland to vermont, whether they would have been allowed to become citizens. or my wife's parents when they came to vermont from canada whether they could have become citizens. we have to remember, we all came
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and our ancestors or ourselves from somewhere else. and then on an issue that is before the nation, and properly so, and i applaud the president for doing this, is the issue of gun violence. two weeks from today the senate judiciary committee will begin examining possible remedies for tragedies like last month's shootings in newtown. i believe these will be the first congressional hearings since that happened. and the questions we face about our national gun policy extend beyond the tragic issues of mass murder. they extend to how we care for those with mental illness. how we manage the exposure of children to violence and simple matters of gun safety. i hope it's going to be an open forum for constructive
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discussion. again, spare me symbolic arguments. let's have a constructive discussion about how better to protect our communities from mass shootings irrespecting fundamental rights guaranteed by our supreme court. now, like many other gun owners i believe that we should strengthen our federal laws to combat gun trafficking. we should ensure that those seeking to purchase guns do so with real background checks. that's only part of what's needed. as president obama's made clear, no single step can end this kind of violence. but the fact that we cannot do everything that could help should not paralyze us from doing anything that can help. so i'll go to the white house when i leave here. i'm looking forward to reviewing the proposals the president is announcing today.
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of course the judiciary committee will consider those proposals as we begin will be the first of several hearings on this topic. then we have the question of first responders. i'm going to keep the committee's focus on partnerships that protect our first responders like the public safety officers benefits act. i'm going to re-authorize the lifesaving bulletproof vest partnership grant program. was proud to offer that bipartisan in 1998 with senator ben "nighthorse" campbell. we recently provided the one millionth bulletproof vest to a state law enforcement agency. these are not abstract things. first responders are flesh and blood lifelines to each and every one of us. they ran to buildings like sandy hook elementary out of a sense of duty even though they knew they were putting their lives on the line and had they not responded as quickly as they did, that tragedy would have
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been even worse. had they not been there immediately, more children would have died. we count on them. we ought to let them count on us. we have some who argue that federal assistance to first responders is somewhat unconstitutional. balderdash. they are wrong. they should some stalling these important initiatives. in the coming months we'll continue to examine our criminal justice system. we are going to work to promote national standards and oversight or forensic labs and practitioners. we are going to have improvements far more effectively identify and convict people guilty of crimes, but avoiding the all too common tragedy of convicting the innocent. if you have labs that do not give you right results and you think you can close a case by set -- sending the wrong person
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to prison, you have done nothing for the safety of people. you have won the tragedy of having an innocent person in prison but at the same time you have loose on the streets the person who committed the crime. we all suffer from that. then i think we have to also examine issues related to our high rate of imprison, including the -- imprisonment, including the fish cal issues, and mandatory minimum sentences to make sure we have approaches that effectively reduce crime and target violent offenders. let me say, i say this as a former prosecutor and i say this as a chairman of the senate judiciary committee. i think our reliance at the state and federal level on mandatory minimums has been a great mistake. i'm not convinced it has lowered crime. we have imprisoned people who should not be there, and we have
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wasted money better spent on other things. i think at the federal level and at the state level get rid of these mandatory minimum sentences. let judges, let judges act as judges and make up their own mind what should be done. the idea that we protect society by one-size-fits all or the idea that we can do this kind of symbolism to make us safer, it just does not work in the real world. there are too many people, too many young people, too many minorities, too many from the inner city who are serving time in jail for people who might have done the same thing but had the money to stay out are not there. what i say is if you have the
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inner city buying $100 worth of cocaine, for example, could end up going to prison for years. if you have somebody on wall street buying the same $100 from their local dealer, if they are caught, they'll be reprimanded and may even have to do on park avenue a week of public service. that's not right. these not right. -- that's not right. the first legislation i plan to move in the new congress is the violence against women act. last year the senate passed my bipartisan bill, but house leaders refused to agree to protect some of the most vulnerable victims of domestic violence and rape. like so many other worthy efforts, renewing vawa has suffered from obstructionism that's seeped too much until our legislative process. each of us probably know victims of domestic or sexual violence.
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i still have nightmares for some of the domestic violence crime scenes i saw when i was a prosecutor in vermont. and today as we struggle to overcome these unprecedented obstacles to renewing and improving vawa, i think of victims like carmen from vermont. let me tell you this story. it's a very small town. two vermonters here in the front row know. it's very safe town. very quiet town. but five years ago carmen's estranged husband broke into her home, beat her with a baseball bat, threw industrial strength lye into her face and across her body. her doctors said she had suffered the most horrific injury a human being could suffer. it nearly blinded her. today she's disfigured and still in pain. yet she's courageously sharing her experience to help others.
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stories like carmen's remind us every day we do not pass the vawa, violence against women act, bill, comes at a human cost. and i have one message, for those who say we should not pass it because we included others, we included members of the lbgt community, native americans, we included immigrants in there thus we should not pass it. i have never seen a police officer at a crime scene say, well, before we can do anything about this person who has been beaten, perhaps to death, we must make sure the person is straight or the person is not a native american, is american. no. a victim is a victim is a victim. and we should stop setting up standards that say we'll have one standard of law enforcement for one group of victims but not for another. i thank you. [applause]
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this is going to be a first priority this year. we'll again try to re-authorize our trafficking protection act. modern day slavery. which is shockingly common around the world, and even here in the united states. we could have passed it last year. we had republicans and democrats aboard, a single senator blocked this passage. i hope we can come together and overcome that obstruction. because this is a blight on the world community, it's a blight on the united states. we should be taking steps to stop it. we also have to in the judiciary committee continue to exercise oversight when it comes to our nation's counterterrorism efforts, to protect the civil liberties of all americans. we'll examine the
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constitutional, legal issues implicated by the administration's use of drones abroad. my concern goes beyond the legal force used against suspected terrorists. i'm concerned about the growing use of drones by federal and local authorities to spy on americans here at home. this vast emerging technology is cheap, but i think just because it's available doesn't mean it helps us. i think there could be a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of americans. so just because we have the technology that allows us to spy on each other, let's not forget we have certain basic constitutional rights as americans. and in a fast changing, technologically changing world, let's not lose sight of the plan that we should follow. it's not a plan of cold or written into a computer program,
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it's a plan that is written in our constitution. and that, that should be the one thing we fault. we make a tragic mistake, we think that merely giving up more and more of our privacy is going to make us safer. it will not. security and liberty are both essential in a free society. you can't foresake one for the other. and then lastly, i'll continue to fight for transparency that keeps the government accountable to the people. few of us agree with everything that is done or spoken under protection of our first amendment rights, our freedom of the press. but as a son of vermont printers and publishers, you can bet i have very serious concerns about the press being shut out. of course i oppose the disclosure of properly classified government information, but i think we have
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to make sure that legislative efforts to protect or prevent classified leaks don't infringe upon our fundamental freedoms, including freedom of the press. and there i might say to the administration, as i have said to past administrations, don't overclassify things. don't put a classification on everything that you do, including those things where you want to cover your mistakes. this is an open and free country. let's keep it that way. so i'll keep pushing to update our privacy laws, to address emerging technology and the internet. including the electronic communications privacy act. we havele to re-authorize satellite -- we have to re-authorize satellite, tv licenses. we have to make books accessible for those with visual disabilities. create incentives for innovation. like chief justice roberts, i believe the extraordinary high number of extended judicial
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vacancies has to end. we'll continue to work to to that, but those who would block judges from coming up for even a vote -- i'll say this. vote why or vote no. but when you block them you are voting maybe. what an irresponsible, lazy thing to do. vote yes. vote no. don't vote maybe. so anyway, i tell you some of these things, tell you why i enjoy being a lawyer, why i enjoy being a graduate of your school, dean. i also tell you i enjoy being chairman of the senate judiciary committee. so my friends i see here in the audience remember me telling the story that when i first came to the senate i was told, i believe it was by then chairman of the judiciary committee, because i was a junior most member, he said, boy, around here it's based on seniority.
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and boy, you don't have any. you hear me? i said, yes, sir. i went home and said to my wife. terrible, terrible program they have in the u.s. senate basing things on seniority. we should change that. having studied it for 38 years i now fully understand it. dean, i thank you very, very much. [applause] >> thank you very much, senator. that was an extraordinary talk. now we have some time for questions. i'd like to start first with students. if there are any students who have questions, please come forward. we have two microphones on either side. >> they are not going to be shy, are they?
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>> good morning, senator. thank you for coming to give this talk. my question centers around supreme court justices. justice kagen has broken the recent and long-standing trend of supreme court justices who have first served as federal judges on the court of appeals. my question is, what do you believe to be the ideal qualifications of a supreme court justice? and will we return to a time when the average congressman or governor has a chance to serve on the supreme court? >> i love that question. thank you very much. i have thought about this and i have spoken about this. i believe we have got to get out of the judicial monastery to pick our supreme court justices. obviously we have had some wonderful supreme court justices who have served first in circuit judges or elsewhere, but i'd like to see them from a broader
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way. i'd like to see somebody with more -- i say those who haven't just been a judicial monastery, people who have been out and have had all kinds of other experiences. i'll give you one example, the man when i was a law student here, georgetown, my wife and i were privileged to sit with him one time when our honor society was inviting all the supreme court justices for launch. we ended up sitting with hugo black. now, justice black, something you could agree or disagree with him, but he had been a ku klux klan member. he was one of the ones who worked with the chief justice to help draft the board of education. and ending segregation. he also was a strong, strong defender of the first amendment.
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but he could speak of his own personal experience. and actually evolution. we have had many others, many others like that. i think we should look -- i have urged president obama on this, i have urged other presidents, you see how much they paid attention to me, but start going outside the judicial monastery. i want somebody with integrity. i want somebody with legal ability, somebody who is bright and understands the law but has had a wider variety of experience. you mentioned governors and members of congress or others. yes, but i want as broad experience as possible. thank you. >> next question. >> incidentally i have enjoyed some of the interviews with justice sotomayor, and she's talked about her own experience. there's somebody with a really remarkable experience. remarkable experience. if you